Ms Tam Chek Ming, 46, raised $900,000 in crowdfunding after she launched appeals for help on crowdfunding platforms Give.Asia and Generosity… but now she has run into problems with receiving state subsidies for her medical treatment as the National University Cancer Institute has screened her out of these subsidies due to her new found financial wealth.
Ms Tam’s battle with ovarian cancer began in 2015. Despite going for chemotherapy, her cancer progressed from Stage One to Four. At that point, Ms Tam had been receiving subsidies from Medifund, a social safety net designed to help Singaporeans with financial difficulties pay for their treatment. The scheme is meant for those who are unable to afford the bills even with subsidies, insurance payouts and Medisave.
As some of the more advanced treatments she required were still not covered under Medifund subsidies, she sought the help of crowdfunding in April 2016 and April 2017. She wrote that she wanted to stay alive for a few more years for the sake of her 5 year-old son.
She subsequently raised S$771,692 and US$80,047 (S$109,000) on the two crowdfunding platforms.
In May 2017, Ms Tam tried to apply unsuccessfully for Medifund assistance during a regular review, but was rejected by the Medifund committee from the National University Cancer Institute.
A spokesperson told reporters about the grounds for their decision: “The committee assessed that Ms Tam no longer needed to rely on Medifund assistance for her medical bills based on her current financial resources, and that Medifund amount can be used to help other patients with more immediate needs.”
Ms Tam has also been denied ComCare assistance, a national scheme meant to help low-income individuals. She had first started receiving hand outs from ComCare in November 2016 for 3 months. She did not renew her application in January 2017, but was rejected when she tried to apply again in May 2017.
When contacted for their views, the Ministry of Social and Family Development, which oversees the scheme, said that she was rejected ‘as she was assessed to have sufficient savings’.